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Retaking the GRE Is Harder than Taking the GRE

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Retaking the GRE Is Harder than Taking the GRE [#permalink] New post 08 Sep 2018, 11:19
I recently took the GRE and scored 160Q, 157V and 4.5AW. My background is in engineering and software and I am applying for data science grad programs around the country. I was pretty bummed about my score because I thought I was good at math. Most engineers think this way until they take this test ? My primary source of studying was Magoosh and Manhattan Prep.

My weaknesses in quant are speed, quant comparisons with huge exponents or big numbers or multiple variables, number properties (i.e. x > y^2 which of the following can be true), and data interpretation. It's not that I can't work through the problem, I freak out because these take me a long time to solve and I end up panicking through the rest of the section.

My weakness in verbal is reading comp. I get overwhelmed and lost in the passage, end up rereading the sentences and it's a big mess in my head. I guess I also get a bit angry because who would read these types of arcane articles on the regular in grad school in under 2 minutes? Sigh. I have read my share of journals and science articles and I always had time to digest them. Anyways, I digress.

After my exam, I took 2 weeks off and I am back to studying for a retake happening in 3 weeks. I would love to get my quant score up to 165 and my verbal to 160. I am focusing on number properties and quick tricks to solve those problems. I am also going to try and take 12 practice exams before my test date. I am so overwhelmed by what I need to do, and what it means if I can't raise my scores up.

If you guys have any advice on GRE retakes as well as on my weaknesses in either section, or for GRE life in general, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks for taking the time to read this!
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Re: Retaking the GRE Is Harder than Taking the GRE [#permalink] New post 08 Sep 2018, 12:37
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This might be a good starting point.


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Re: Retaking the GRE Is Harder than Taking the GRE [#permalink] New post 21 Sep 2018, 05:58
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Hi bossy302,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. So, a 160Q/157V is a great starting point. That being said, it may take longer than just 3 weeks to improve your GRE score by 8 points. Are you able to take your exam at a later date? Either way, I’m happy to provide some advice on how to improve your score.

To improve your GRE skills, you will want to follow a linear study plan such that you can begin with the foundations and progress toward more advanced concepts. For example, if you are learning about Number Properties, you should develop as much conceptual knowledge about Number Properties as possible. In other words, your goal will be to completely understand properties of factorials, perfect squares, quadratic patterns, LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, and remainders, to name a few concepts. After carefully reviewing the conceptual underpinnings of how to answer Number Properties questions, you will want to practice by answering 50 or more questions just from Number Properties. When you do dozens of questions of the same type one after the other, you learn just what it takes to get questions of that type correct consistently. If you aren't getting close to 90 percent of questions of a certain type correct, go back and seek to better understand how that type of question works, and then do more questions of that type until you get to around at least 90 percent accuracy in your training. If you get 100 percent of some sets correct, even better. Number Properties is just one example; follow this process for all quant topics.

When you are working on learning to answer questions of a particular type, start off taking your time, and then seek to speed up as you get more comfortable answering questions of that type. As you do such practice, do a thorough analysis of each question that you don't get right. If you got a remainder question wrong, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not properly apply the remainder formula? Was there a concept you did not understand in the question? By carefully analyzing your mistakes, you will be able to efficiently fix your weaknesses and in turn improve your GRE quant skills.

Each time you strengthen your understanding of a topic and your skill in answering questions of a particular type, you increase your odds of hitting your score goal. You know that there are types of questions that you are happy to see and types that you would rather not see, and types of questions that you take a long time to answer correctly. Learn to more effectively answer the types of questions that you would rather not see, and make them into your favorite types. Learn to correctly answer in 1 minute and 45 seconds or less questions that you currently take five minutes to answer. By finding, say, a dozen weaker quant areas and turning them into strong areas, you will make great progress toward hitting your quant score goal. If a dozen areas turn out not to be enough, strengthen some more areas.

When studying verbal, as your vocabulary improves, your GRE verbal score very likely will improve. With that said, vocabulary on the GRE is a beast, and learning such a vast number of GRE vocab words will take many hours. Thus, you will want to find a large, reputable vocab list and study the heck out of it. Yes, the process of memorizing thousands of words is tedious and boring, but if your competition is memorizing 2,000 to 3,000 vocab words, then you must do the same or more! However, memorizing vocab words is just a part of the battle. After improving your vocab, you need to improve your skills at answering Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions.

Accurately answering Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions is not as simple as knowing your vocab. When answering a single-sentence Text Completion question, for instance, you need to understand what the sentence is trying to say. In other words, you need to understand the logic of the sentence, the important clues that indicate what word or words are needed to complete the sentence. In problems that involve two or three sentences, you also need to understand the relationships between the sentences. There are always important clues to guide you in the existing sentences. Understanding the context around the blanks is the most important thing you can do. Likewise when answering Sentence Equivalence questions, focus on the BIG PICTURE or context clues that are provided in the sentence. If you can accurately assess the context of what you are reading, you will have a better shot at selecting the appropriate vocab word to complete the sentence.

While learning to effectively answer completion questions, you must also improve your Reading Comprehension skills. In that case, your ability to understand the logic of what you are reading matters even more. All Reading Comprehension passages involve arguments, so you must strive to understand what the point of each argument is. You also should understand that the main parts of the argument in the multi-paragraph passages are the different paragraphs, while the main parts of the argument in the single-paragraph passages are the sentences. Understanding how the different parts fit together, in each instance, is one of your more important tasks. Furthermore, as you practice Reading Comprehension, focus on the exact types of questions with which you struggle: Find the Main Idea, Inference, Author’s Tone, etc. Analyze your incorrect answers, and try to understand why the answer you picked was wrong.

To correctly answer single-paragraph passages, as mentioned above, you will need to be able to analyze the relationship between sentences. Furthermore, you need to ensure that you you fully understand the essence of the various single-paragraph question types. Do you know the importance of an assumption within an argument? Can you easily spot a conclusion? Do you know how to resolve a paradox? Do you know how to properly evaluate cause and effect? Do you know how to properly weaken or strengthen an argument? These are just a few examples; you really need to take a deep dive into the individual topics to develop the necessary skills to properly attack these types of Reading Comprehension questions.

Finally, keep in mind that GRE Reading Comprehension passages are not meant to be easy to read, so to better prepare yourself to tackle such passages, read magazines with similar challenging content and style, such as the Economist, Scientific American, and Smithsonian.

To follow the approach outlined above, you may consider using an online self-study course. [GRE Prep Club]( has reviews of the best online GRE prep courses.

Lastly, you may find it helpful to read this article about [how to score a 330+ on your GRE]( ... 30-on-gre/).

Please reach out with any further questions.

Good luck!

Scott Woodbury-Stewart
Founder and CEO

GRE Quant Self-Study Course
500+ lessons 3000+ practice problems 800+ HD solutions

Re: Retaking the GRE Is Harder than Taking the GRE   [#permalink] 21 Sep 2018, 05:58
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